New York

'Hero' FDNY Paramedic Saves Man From Icy Hudson River

The dramatic rescue was on one of the coldest days of the year, when temperatures outside the water were in the 20s

What to Know

  • A paramedic from the FDNY jumped into the Hudson River to save a man on one of the coldest days of the year
  • Bystanders captured the rescue as the paramedic dove in and grabbed the man, who was hypothermic
  • The paramedic and the victim were hospitalized, but are expected to be okay

An FDNY paramedic is being called a hero after he saved a man from the freezing Hudson River.

Niall O’Shaughnessy jumped into the frigid river Saturday afternoon after he and his partner Mingze Wu saw NYPD Harbor Unit officers going into the river near Harrison Street and the West Side Highway in Manhattan.

The NYPD had already lowered a life ring down to the man in the water, but the man was losing consciousness and starting to slip off the life ring, O’Shaughnessy said.

That’s when O’Shaughnessy took off his equipment and boots and jumped into the river feet first.

“After I submerged and came back up, I put my arms around the victim,” O’Shaughnessy said. “I pushed him back on the life ring using my body, just to hold him against the life ring and I locked arms around the life ring.”

The dramatic rescue was on one of the coldest days of the year, when temperatures outside the water were in the 20s.

“After I jumped in, about 30 seconds in, I felt the cold set in,” O’Shaughnessy said, adding that he was having trouble moving his arms because of the cold.

Meanwhile, Wu was above him coordinating the rescue and Engine 10 was arriving on scene with a ladder. The ladder was put down into the water, but O’Shaughnessy says he knew he wouldn’t be able to climb up the ladder with the man.

That’s when an NYPD Harbor Unit boat pulled up and O’Shaughnessy managed to hand the man over to them before climbing the ladder back to shore.

Tom Garvey was at the scene and sent photos to NBC 4 New York, including one of O’Shaughnessy being led to an ambulance while bundled in a blanket. He was taken to a hospital to warm up, but is execpted to be okay. 

“He was in good spirits and looked like he'd feel a lot better after he got some warm socks,” Garvey said in an email in which he the paramedic a “hero.”

O’Shaughnessy says the man in the river was hypothermic and having trouble speaking and moving, but he was ultimately taken to Bellevue Hospital in stable condition. It’s unclear why he was in the water.

This isn’t the first time O’Shaughnessy has rescued someone from the Hudson River, according to the New York Post, which reported that he saved a woman who had jumped into the Hudson back in July 2015. The report says he also saved a drunken woman who had fallen between train cars at the 49th Street subway station in Midtown in 2014.

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